Several members of Congress are asking the Norwegian Nobel Committee to honor civil rights legend Opal Lee with a Nobel Peace Prize. The 95-year-old is known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth.”
A letter signed by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, and many others read, “We the undersigned members of the United States Congress, respectfully nominate Ms. Opal Lee to receive the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work to establish Juneteenth as a national holiday and bring awareness to the contributions and struggles of African Americans in the United States, as well as her mission to create a more equitable society for humanity.”
Due to the longtime advocacy of leaders like Lee, Juneteenth, which is June 19, became a holiday in June of 2021.
On June 19, 1865, U.S. Army Maj. General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to tell Black people who had been enslaved that the Civil War was over and they had been freed. Juneteenth, as the date has come to be known, has been celebrated in Black communities for generations as a memorialization of that day.
When the bill to make Juneteenth a holiday passed, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “Juneteenth commemorates the moment some of the last formerly enslaved people in the nation learned they were free. Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a major step forward to recognize the wrongs of the past — but we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution.”
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